The Ruby Suns Sea Lion

The Ruby Suns Sea Lion
Ryan McPhun, the man behind Ruby Suns, is a wandering man — if he was less charming, he’d make a great poster boy for an international hostel. Born in California but transplanted to New Zealand, McPhun draws ideas from across wide geographical and historical divides, mixing self-recorded sound bites from Kenya with shuffling Latin American beats and musical gestures gleaned from old psych and new wave records. "World music” is a problematic term, but a large portion of the world is represented here: one song is sung entirely in Maori, another sounds like a mix between Modern English and the Magnetic Fields, and yet another is an ode to the Mojave Desert. McPhun is clearly what you’d call a free spirit — not only is he well travelled, he writes and records independently — but where songwriting is concerned, he pulls it together with aplomb. Sea Lion is beautiful and adventurous, and while one might have reservations about McPhun’s "hippie backpacker” image, he more than proves his merits as an eclectic, inspired and hugely talented songwriter. (Sub Pop)